In 2007, Elisa founded the Special Education Law Group at Friedman & Moses and, since then, Elisa and her firm have served as Of Counsel to Friedman & Moses.  Between 1998 and 2007,  Elisa spent eight years at Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), first as the organization's Deputy Director and then as the Executive Director.  Elisa has served as lead and co-counsel on several federal class action suits involving special education, disability discrimination and other education rights. She also spearheaded a number of public policy initiatives focused on improving regular and special education in the City.

Prior to starting her practice in the field of education law, Elisa was Assistant General Counsel at Safe Horizon, where she focused on employment law, in-house legal issues, domestic violence and crime victim policy and served as the Queens Child Advocacy Center planning director. Between 1991-1996, Elisa spent five years as a litigation associate at White & Case, where she worked on complex civil litigation in federal and state court, as well as class action defense.  

Elisa has a J.D. from Duke Law School and a M.A. in Economics from Duke University.  Elisa is admitted in the First Department, the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and the Second Circuit.

Select Presentations

  • Speaker, Lehigh University Special Education Law Symposium, June 2016

  • Speaker, PLI’s School Law Institute, June 2015, School to Prison Pipeline

  • Speaker, PLI’s School Law Institute, May 2012

  • American University Symposium, Current Issues in Special Education Advocacy (2/25/11)

  • Panelist, Ethics Panel, PLI’s School Law Institute, May 2009

  • Panelist, Challenging the School to Prison Pipeline: Harms and Remedies, ACLU & NYLS (4/09)

  • Panelist, Changing Times in Special Education Due Process: A View from the Bench on the State of the Law and Reconciling IDEA 2004 with No Child Left Behind, ABA (8/08)

  • Facilitator/Panelist, School to Prison Pipeline Roundtable, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Boston, MA (12/07)

  • Panelist, NYSBA, Special Education Law Update 2007, NY, NY (11/16/07)

  • Facilitator & Panelist, Winning Strategies for Young Black Men, sponsored by Goldman Sachs & Sullivan & Cromwell, and Panelist, NY, NY (7/06, 3/07 & 7/07)

  • Panelist, ACLU’s School to Prison Pipeline Litigator’s Conference, NY, NY (4/07)

  • Panelist, School to Prison Pipeline Roundtable, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Boston, MA (1/07)

  • Panelist, Grantmakers for Education Conference, San Francisco, CA (11/06)

  • Keynote Speaker, Syracuse University, Centennial Lecture Series, Syracuse, NY (9/06)

  • Panelist, Appleseed Foundation Summer Seminar, NY, NY (7/06)

  • Panelist, Public Education Grantmakers Roundtable, NY, NY (5/06)


  • Hero Cop Finds Autistic Boy After School Didn't Notice He was Missing, NY Post (10/10/16)

  • Special Education Suit in New York Wins Class Action Status, Schoolbook (1/8/16)

  • Parents Battle City Schools for Special Education Services, City Limits (9/30/14)

  • Student Upgrades Mostly a Mirage, Staten Island Advance(9/17/06)

  • Advocates Say City Undercounts Homeless Kids, WNYC (9/14/06)

  • Back to School in a System Being Remade, NY Times (9/5/06)

  • City's Night School Program Getting Permanent Snooze, NY Sun (8/11/06)

  • Parents Digging Up Data on Teachers, NY Post (8/9/06)

  • Cutback on Counselors, NY Daily News (8/6/06)

  • Graduation Rate Improving, Schools Chancellor Says, NY Times (6/30/06)

  • Special Education Ruling’s Effects Unclear, NY Times (11/17/06)

  • Brooklyn High School Is Accused Anew of Forcing Students Out, NY Times (10/12/05)

  • Progress and Concerns Noted In Special Education System, NY Times (9/24/05)

  • Study on Special Education Finds Low Graduation Rate, NY Times (6/23/05)

  • “Schools Wrong to Push Out Kids,” Op Ed., Daily News, 2003 (author)

Select Publications

  • Hyman, Elisa, Dean Hill Rivkin, and Stephen A. Rosenbaum. "How IDEA Fails Families Without Means: Causes and Corrections From the Frontlines of Special Education" American University Journal of Gender Social Policy and Law 20, no. 1 (2011): 107-162.

  • State of Public Education for Black Males in New York City (co-author 2007)

  • “So Many Schools, So Few Options: How Mayor Bloomberg’s Small High School Reforms Deny Full Access to English Language Learners,” Fall 2006 (editor) “Up Against the Odds: New York City’s Homeless Children Lose Out in School,” Fall 2006 (editor)

  • “An In-depth Look at Free Tutoring Services under the No Child Left Behind Act in New York City- A Focus on English Language Learners,” Spring 2006 (author)

  • “School Push-outs: An Urban Case Study,” Vol. 38 Clearinghouse Review, Journal of Poverty Law and Policy, Jan.-Feb. 2005 (author)

  • “Leaving School Empty-Handed: A Report on Graduation and Dropout Rates for Students who Receive Special Education Services in New York City,” Fall 2005 (co-author)

  • “Children in Crisis: Advocates for Children Domestic Violence Advocacy Project,” 2004 (co-author/editor)

  • “Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in New York City: As Assessment of Current Special Education Services,” 2004 (co-author/editor)

  • “Pushing Out At-risk Students: An Analysis of High School Discharge Figures,” 2002 (lead author)

  • Contributing Editor, New York Civil Practice: Family Court Proceedings Treatise, Bender Publications, 2004-2005

  • “Domestic Violence in the Workplace: In-House Solutions to an In-House Problem,” Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, 1997 (author)

  • “Domestic Violence and Unemployment Insurance,” NYLJ, 1996 (co-author)

Select Awards, Affiliations & Activities

  • Winning Strategies for Young Black Men, Education Working Group Team Leader (Spring 2007-2009)

  • Member, Education Law Task Force

  • Legal Services Award, Association of the Bar of the City of New York, (2004)

  • Leadership New York Program, Coro Foundation (2002-2003)

  • Legal Services of New York Education Law Task Force (2001-2007)

  • CLE Instructor, Practicing Law Institute and the Legal Services Corporation of New York (2000-2005)

  • Volunteer Attorney, Legal Aid Society Pro Bono Death Penalty Project (2003)

  • Association of the Bar of the City of New York (ABCNY), Juvenile Justice Committee (2001-2003)

  • Volunteer, Safe Horizon’s Family AssistanceCenter for Victims of 9/11 (2001)

  • Woman of the Year Award, New York Women’s Agenda (1998)

  • Chair, ABCNY Legal Issues Affecting Crime Victims; Co-Chair, Women, Welfare and Abuse Task Force; member, New York County Lawyer’s Association Task Force on Domestic Violence; New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Legislative Subcommittee; Criminal Justice Coordinator's Child Abuse Task Force (1997-98)

  • Lawyer’s Committee Against Domestic; Interagency Task Force on Domestic Violence; New York Women’s Agenda, Domestic Violence Subcommittee (1996-98)